PEI

Warmer Northumberland Strait not good news for lobster fishery

As climate change warms the waters around Prince Edward Island, it could bring a new threat of disease to lobsters.

'Shell disease is strongly correlated with warmer temperatures'

The tiny lobster are an indication of the future health of the fishery. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

As climate change warms the waters around Prince Edward Island, it could bring a new threat of disease to lobsters.

University of Maine researcher Richard Wahle said his surveys of the waters around P.E.I. contain both good and bad news for the lobster fishery. There was good news in recent counts of baby lobster.

"We're seeing record levels on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island," said Wahle.

"This is big news and it bodes very well for the fishery in those parts."

But Wahle is concerned about the future of the Northumberland Strait fishery, and in particular of the threat of shell disease.

"The prevalence of shell disease is strongly correlated with warmer temperatures," he said.

"As of now we don't see shell disease as being a serious factor in Canadian waters, but I would think that some of the warmer areas — such as the south side of Prince Edward Island and maybe the southern part of Nova Scotia — may be the most vulnerable to that disease."

Warming waters around Rhode Island have led to shell disease and a drop in the lobster population there, he said.

But Wahle said his surveys show lobster populations on the North Shore of P.E.I., in the eastern Gulf of Maine, the Fundy region and southwest Nova Scotia should remain strong for the next 30 years.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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